The Pak-Afghan Friendship Gate at the Durand Line in Chaman has been closed for cross-border movement for the second day after the Afghan and Pakistani forces clashed. Travellers have been stopped on both sides of the border and the Chaman administration has halted movement across the border indefinitely.
According to the details, the Taliban and the Pakistani border forces exchanged heavy fire on the border on Saturday. Both sides used heavy weaponry in the firefight and there are unconfirmed reports of casualties on both sides. The Taliban have reportedly gathered a large number of troops on the border. The movement of goods and people has been halted and the Friendship Gate has been closed.
In an official statement, the Pakistani foreign office said that the Taliban were trying to make an “illegal” security check post along the Pak-Afghan border when the Pakistani forces intervened and tried to stop them. The foreign office said that the Taliban forces opened fire and the Pakistani forced retaliated. A confrontation broke out that allegedly resulted in casualties on both sides of the border.
The Afghan Taliban rejected these accusations. In a media statement, Taliban Spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid alleged that the Pakistani forces first opened fire and the Afghan forces had to counterattack. Mujahid said that the Taliban are closely monitoring the situation along the border.
There are also reports of collateral damage as a result of the border confrontation between the Pakistani forces and the Taliban – civilians have been reportedly injured in the crossfire. The Chaman administration declared an emergency in all the hospitals in the city.
The Durand Line, the controversial border separating Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been a source of contention between the two countries for a long time. Afghanistan considers it to be its part, a claim that Pakistan finds hard to stomach.
There have been on-again, off-again diplomatic efforts between the two countries to settle the issue, but these efforts have not made any headway. In January this year, Pakistan’s foreign minister said that there were “some complications” pertaining to the fencing of the controversial border but added that it was being discussed. His counterpart in Afghanistan echoed the same sentiments, saying that authorities on both sides of the border need to address the problem.
Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul also sought a response from the Taliban government on the issue, and they did receive it, but it was not what they had expected. Videos showing the Afghan Taliban uprooting the fences surfaced on social media and the efforts at settling the issue were once gain marred. In the meantime, Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khwarizmi said that Pakistan had no right to fence the border and create a divide, adding that such a move was “inappropriate and against the law.”
Since then, the situation at the border has been tense and the anxiety reached its crescendo when the Pakistani and Afghan border forced exchanged heavy gunfire on Thursday.